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UK Innovator visa

Ideal solution for entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea. £50,000 minimum investment. Indefinite Leave to Remain in three years

What is a UK Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator visa is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who plan to run their own business in the UK. It is ideal for business people with an innovative business idea who want to set up a company in the UK or for experienced entrepreneurs that have been running a business outside the United Kingdom for many years and wish to expand it to the UK. You can establish a company in the UK either by yourself or with a business partner. To obtain a UK Innovator visa, you must invest in a new business which means it is not allowed to invest in an existing one.

A UK Innovator visa allows you to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and UK citizenship. Once your business idea is endorsed, all you have to do is to establish your business, take an active part in its development in the UK and other markets, ensure its growth, increase profits and create jobs. It is crucial to follow your initial road map and meet the targets you declared in your first application for a UK Innovator visa.

You will be eligible for a UK Innovator visa if:

  • Your business idea is innovative. In other words, you are going to produce, supply or sell in the UK something considerably different from existing products
  • Your business project is endorsed by a relevant body
  • As a potential Innovator, you meet all the requirements and can invest over £50,000 in your company.
With a UK Innovator visa, you can relocate to the UK with your family and run a business here. Your family members can work or study in the UK, and altogether you can apply for UK ILR in three years. Imperial & Legal advisors will help you achieve your goals.

Benefits of UK Innovator Visa

A UK Innovator visa will give you access to the booming UK market. It is your chance to increase the number of customers worldwide, generate high profits and contribute to the local economy by creating jobs. Initially, the visa is issued for three years and can be extended any number of times, and every time you can set up a new company.

What Can I Do on a UK Innovator Visa?

  1. Set up a business or several businesses
  2. Work to develop your UK business by being employed as a director, or self-employed as a partner in a business partnership 
  3. Bring your spouse and children to the UK
  4. Travel abroad and return to the UK without any restrictions 
  5. Apply for UK ILR in three years, provided your business has been developing ahead of schedule.

Apart from this impressively wide range of opportunities you will have in the UK as an Innovator, there are other advantages for the applicant and their family: 

  • As an innovator, you can relocate to a welcoming and safe European country with a stable political system and well-developed economy 
  • The entire family will have access to the UK healthcare system with its cutting-edge technologies
  • Your children will be eligible to apply to universities and other educational institutions, which is a perfect way to ensure their future stability.

What Can I Not Do on a UK Innovator Visa? 

  1. Be employed anywhere outside your business, because you are supposed to fully dedicate your time and efforts to your UK company 
  2. Work as a sports coach or a professional sportsperson, because there is a special visa category for this  
  3. Apply for public funds.

Requirements for UK Innovator Visa 

All the requirements imposed by the Home Office can be divided into two categories: those concerning an applicant and those concerning their UK business.

Requirements for an Applicant for UK Innovator Visa 

Apart from the relevant education and experience in running a business, applicants must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • An endorsed business idea 
  • A valid business plan 
  • Ability to support themselves and their dependants 
  • Knowledge of English at Level B2 
  • Being of good health 
  • Clean criminal and immigration records.

Requirements for Businesses

1.Endorsement letter

Before applying for a UK Innovator visa, you need to have your business idea endorsed by one of the relevant bodies, including business incubators, investment funds, consultancies, universities, colleges and other endorsing bodies authorised by the UK Home Office to evaluate projects of foreign entrepreneurs. There is an updated list of endorsing bodies on the official government website. Note: your endorsement letter must be issued not more than three months before you apply for a UK Innovator visa.

To make the right choice, you must do your research or get the support of experienced immigration advisors. Our company can help you choose an endorsing body, draft a business plan for your future company and get an endorsement letter.

You have a very good chance of getting a UK Innovator visa if your business project meets the following criteria:

  • Innovative – it is all in the name; you cannot copy anything that already exists on the UK market. You must be able to offer a truly unique product or a service that targets new or existing customers, so you are not allowed just to invest in an existing UK company. And, of course, you must demonstrate your competitive advantage. 
  • Viable – you must show that you will be able to develop your idea into a real business that is robust and future-proof. To do this, you will need a relevant skill set, qualifications and experience, combined with profound knowledge and a great understanding of the current market.
  • Scalable – your business must have growth potential. While it is developing, you must never stand still. Your business must be able to create jobs and expand both in the UK market and abroad.

2.Investment

In contrast to a UK Start-up visa, it is not enough to come up with a brilliant business idea to apply for a UK Innovator visa. You also need to have at least £50,000 in investment funds and:

  • Your money must be legally sourced
  • You must spend it on the development of your UK business.

You are allowed by law to submit a joint application for a UK Innovator visa together with other entrepreneurs, provided that each of you invests at least £50,000. 

You do not need to invest anything if:

  • Your UK business is already established, and you are switching to the UK Innovator visa from another visa category, for example, the UK Graduate Entrepreneur visa route, which has been closed, or the UK Start-up visa.
  • You have introduced innovations into your existing business and already have the approval of a relevant British endorsing body.

How to Apply for UK Innovator Visa?

There are three ways to apply for a UK Innovator visa:

  • From outside the UK, followed by relocation to the country
  • From inside the UK, if you are switching from a different visa category
  • From inside the UK, if you are extending your current UK Innovator visa.

The majority of foreign entrepreneurs apply for a UK Innovator visa online from their home country. However, to have your application approved, you will have to submit a set of supporting documents and go to a visa application centre in person to have your fingerprints and photo taken for your biometric residence permit.

Documents You Will Need to Apply for UK Innovator Visa 

  1. A passport with a blank page for your visa 
  2. A bank statement showing you have had at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days before you apply to support you after you relocate 
  3. Proof that you can read, write, speak and understand English to level B2. As a rule, an applicant has to pass a special English language test or prove that they have a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English at a university recognised in the UK
  4. Proof that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you are going to establish a new business
  5. A negative tuberculosis test result (for nationals of some countries).

All the documents mentioned must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation.

How Much Do I Have to Invest to Get a UK Innovator Visa?

To get your UK Innovator visa, you will have to pay an application fee upon submission of the application, and the healthcare surcharge. The sum you pay before application depends on whether you apply for a UK Innovator visa from within or outside the UK: 

  • If you apply from outside the UK for the first time, you and your family members will have to pay £1,036 per person 
  • If you apply from within the UK (extending your current UK Innovator visa or switching from another category), you and your family members will have to pay £1,292 per person.  

The immigration healthcare surcharge depends on how long you are going to stay in the UK and the number of your dependants: you will have to pay £624 per person per year.

To calculate precisely how much you will have to pay to apply for a UK Innovator visa, get in touch with Imperial & Legal immigration advisors. Reliable legal assistance in this process is of vital importance because if your visa is refused, you will not get your money back.

How Long Does It Take to Get a UK Innovator Visa?

Once all the requirements of the Home Office are fulfilled, it will take:

  • Up to three weeks, if you applied from outside the UK 
  • Up to eight weeks, if you applied from within the UK.

You can pay for priority (collection within five working days) or super priority (next day collection) visa service if the standard processing time does not work for you for some reason. If you apply for a UK Innovator visa from within the UK, you will have to pay £500 for the priority service and £800 for the super priority service. The cost and availability of the services outside the UK depend on the country you apply from and whether there are visa application centres in that country.

Validity and Extension of UK Innovator Visa  

UK Innovator visa gives you the right to stay in the UK and run a business for up to three years. If for any reason, your endorsement letter has been withdrawn, you must get an endorsement letter from another approved body or leave the UK.

If three years later you still meet all the requirements, you can apply to extend your stay for another three years. Your dependants must apply for their residence permit extension together with you.

There is no limit on the number of times you can extend your UK Innovator visa, but the majority of migrants prefer to apply for UK ILR as soon as they are eligible to do so. If your business shows an outstanding growth rate, you will have the right to apply for ILR once you have been in the UK for three years.

Apply for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) 

You can apply for ILR 3 years from the first entry on a UK Innovator visa. Your application will have to be supported by your endorsing body. A foreign entrepreneur must submit a report to an endorsing body showcasing the development of their company after 6, 12 and 24 months of the company’s being operational. If the Innovator’s business meets two out of seven criteria, the approved body may issue an endorsement letter giving them the right to apply for UK ILR.

Endorsement Criteria 

  1. In the last three years, you have spent at least £50,000 on developing the business 
  2. Your company is involved in science and technology studies which resulted in patents (patent applications)
  3. You have doubled the number of customers in the period of operation of your company, and this number is higher than the average for similar businesses
  4. You have made at least £1 million in revenue in the last full year covered by accounts 
  5. You have made £500,000 in revenue in the last full year covered by accounts, with £100,000 of this from overseas exports
  6. You have created at least 10 jobs for UK citizens and settled people  
  7. You have created at least five jobs for UK citizens with a gross salary of £25,000 a year. 

Other Criteria for ILR 

  • You have spent less than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months since your first arrival to the UK on a UK Innovator visa    
  • If you are over 18 years old, you must pass an A1 level English language test as well as the Life in the UK test. 

Your spouse and children under 18 and even children over 18, provided they came of age while staying in the UK, can apply for ILR with you.

UK Citizenship and British Passport 

Your family members and you can apply for UK citizenship in 12 months after ILR is granted provided you have stayed in the UK for at least five years. It usually takes 4-6 weeks to get a decision on your application. All the applicants must meet the following criteria:  

  • In 5 years before applying for citizenship, you have not spent more than 450 days outside the UK and more than 90 days in the last year 
  • You must have clean criminal and immigration records
  • You must speak fluent English 
  • You have passed a Life in the UK test.

Our immigration advisors have been successfully helping future British entrepreneurs for years. Legal support from Imperial & Legal will save you time and money, and our experienced immigration advisors will do their best to make sure you get your UK Innovator visa. With Imperial & Legal, you are only four simple steps away from your UK Innovator visa.

 

Get in touch with Imperial & Legal
Timeframe: 1 day
Imperial & Legal experts are UK-based regulated immigration advisors. A consultation with our experts can be held in our office, over the phone or via Zoom/Skype. During the consultation, your immigration advisor will get to know your circumstances, listen to your story and answer all your questions. Once a service agreement is signed, our experts will start working on your case.
Prepare documents to get an endorsement letter
Timeframe: 3–4 weeks
Imperial & Legal immigration advisors are your official representatives till you get a decision from the Home Office. Our experts will assist you in drafting a business plan, compile a list of documents required to get an endorsement letter and prepare cover letters. A relevant endorsing body will consider your idea and, if they endorse it, the Home Office will send you a letter.
Prepare and submit your visa application
Timeframe: 1 week
While submitting documents for an endorsement letter, our experts are also preparing your visa application – Imperial & Legal specialists will have the supporting documents translated into English, prepare your application, fill in online forms, pay the visa fees and submit an application a day after you get your endorsement letter. We will make an appointment for you to visit a UK visa application centre to have your biometrics taken, and upload all the necessary documents into the system.
Get your UK Innovator visa and relocate to the UK
Timeframe: 3 weeks
If you apply from outside the UK, you will get a decision on your UK Innovator visa within three weeks. Once your application is approved and you have received your visa, you may relocate to the UK. Imperial & Legal experts’ assistance is not limited to visa issues, they can also ensure your smooth relocation to the UK, help you find lovely accommodation and get your children enrolled into a nursery or a school. We can also support your business – help you with registering a UK company or dealing with taxes and provide accounting services. Most of our clients keep in touch with us after their relocation to extend their visas and get UK ILR and UK citizenship.

FAQ about a UK Innovator Visa

As an Innovator, why would I need a business plan?

A business plan is one of the fundamental requirements for this visa category. Besides, a business plan would be of great help for you to get an endorsement letter.

What is the UK point-based immigration system and how many points do I have to get to have my UK Innovator visa application approved?

To make an unbiased decision for every application, the Home Office uses the point-based immigration system. To get a UK Innovator visa, you will need to score 70 points. The criteria are as follows.

Requirement

Business

Points

A business plan

New

10

The business idea is innovative, viable and scalable 

New

20

You have invested or are going to invest £50,000 in the business 

New

20

An applicant stays in the UK on a UK Start-up visa, a UK Innovator visa or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, and their business is endorsed by an endorsing body  

Existing

10

The business is developing successfully, and the achievements exceed those declared in the business plan 

Existing

20

An applicant takes an active part in the day-to-day management and development of the business  

Existing

20

Knowledge of the English language at Level B2 or higher on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale 

New or existing

10

Financial requirement – enough funds to support yourself and your family

New or existing

10

What family members can apply for UK ILR together with me?

As it has been mentioned, only the immediate family can apply for UK ILR together with an innovator:

  • A spouse
  • An unmarried partner 
  • Children under 18
  • Children over 18, provided they are your dependants, and they came of age while in the UK.

What are the UK Innovator visa maintenance requirements for an applicant with a spouse and children?

In addition to the £1,270 for the main applicant you must have:

  • £285 for your spouse or partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child 

So, to relocate to the UK on a UK Innovator visa, a family of two adults and two children will need £1,270 + £285 + £315 + £200 = £2,070 in their bank account.

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